Spiders are often seen as terrifying little creatures who have the power to scare even fully grown adults.
No offense to them, but they do look like they truly belong in a horror movie. Unfortunately, wolf spiders are very much the same.
These strong, swift, and agile predators are typically active at night and rely on their keen vision to hunt.
But why are these spiders named “Wolf Spiders”? Unlike normal spiders who catch their prey by spinning webs and trapping them, these creatures chase and hunt down their prey- similar to a wolf.
One slight difference is that wolf spiders hunt alone, whereas wolves hunt in packs.
Though terrifying, these unique spiders are sometimes referred to as “useful bugs” and play a significant part in the natural population control of insects due to their predation on nuisance species in farms and gardens.
Table of Contents
Wolf Spider Taxonomy
|Scientific Name||Lycosidae Sundevall|
Wolf Spider Physical description
Despite being a distinct species, wolf spiders are frequently mistaken for tarantulas due to their similar large and hairy appearance.
Lycosidae – wolf spiders, have body lengths that range from less than 10 to 35 mm (0.4 to 1.38 inches).
They have eight eyes in total: four small eyes on the bottom row, two enormous eyes on the middle row, and two medium-sized eyes on the top row.
These hairy spiders have superb eyesight, unlike most other arachnids, which are either blind or have limited vision.
They can hold unhatched babies in their egg sacs as a unique maternal behavior. It is a spherical, silken globe linked to the spinnerets at the end of the abdomen.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, these arachnids are usually brown, gray, black, or tan, with dark markings — most commonly stripes.
However, they lack the striking look of several other spider types because they rely on camouflage for defense. Their coloring matches their preferred environment.
Wolf Spider Habitat
Wolf spiders have an extensive range because their spiderlings travel by air. They may be found in various inland and coastal settings of North America and Central America.
These terrestrial habitats include homes, suburban lawns, alpine meadows, wet coastal forests, shrublands, and woodlands.
Most species are rovers without permanent homes, while some have specialized microhabitat requirements. Some create burrows with trap doors or openings that may be left open.
Rarely do American wolf spiders inhabit interior spaces. If they are discovered inside, they either accidentally strayed in or were looking for refuge.
Wolf spiders frequently hide indoors in closets, doors, windowsills, furniture, and plant pots.
Diet / Preys of Wolf Spider
Adult Wolf spiders primarily consume ground-dwelling insects and spiders. The largest wolf spiders can eat tiny reptiles and amphibians.
Wolf spiders strangle their insect prey using their legs, then turn over on their backs before biting and injecting their venom. Their venom liquefies the prey’s internal organs.
Their favorite snacks include Ants, Beetles, Earwigs, Worms, Spiders, Roaches, Pill bugs, Aphids, Millipedes, and Centipedes. They usually prey at night, and their excellent night vision helps their search for prey.
Predators of Wolf Spider
Inevitably, wolf spiders are also victims of the food chain. Some of their predators are listed below:
Many different wasp species lay their eggs in wolf spiders’ burrows. The mother wasp will inject her egg into the wolf spider but won’t devour it; instead, it will temporarily immobilize it with its stinger.
As they develop, the wolf spider is consumed from the inside out by the wasp larvae.
The wolf spider’s excellent diet also serves as a great meal for amphibians. Numerous species of spiders have been eaten by animals, including frogs, toads, and salamanders.
Birds have a diverse diet and are known to be one of the main predators of insects. Consequently, multiple bird species, including screech and elf owls, are predators of the wolf spider.
Shrews and Coyotes
Though wolf spiders don’t precisely with the diet of shrews/ coyotes, they sometimes hunt wolf spiders as a snack.
Defense Mechanism of Lycosidae Sundevall
As a defense mechanism, roaming wolf spider species use their speed and agility to avoid being killed while blending in with their surroundings.
Their high vibration sensitivity and superb vision aid in defense. However, if forced to engage in combat, wolf spider bites their opponents with their powerful jaws and sometimes sacrifice their legs.
Mating in Wolf Spider
The mating rituals of wolf spiders are an exciting concept. Firstly, females leave scent traces to help male wolf spiders locate them for mating.
Wolf spider males experience a lot of stress during the mating season. When a male finds a female, they engage in a courting ritual in which the male communicates to the female by waving his legs and pedipalps.
If she declines the offer of courting, the male may be eaten by the female. If the female accepts the male, but the copulation goes on for too long, she could still eat the unfortunate little guy. Quite scary!
Courtship makes male spiders more susceptible to predators and other male spiders as they court possible mates, which increases the arachnids’ chance of being cannibalized.
Some males hold off on mating until another male has completed the courtship ritual with the female. Because female spiders have paired reproductive organs, two males can mate with one female at once.
Threesomes usually decrease the risks of the female cannibalizing the male. Fascinating creatures, aren’t they?
Female wolf spiders hatch around a dozen eggs, which they then wrap in silk to form an egg sac.
The spiderlings clamber up their mother’s back after hatching, and she carries them about for a few days. The spiderlings then depart from their moms and venture out on their own.
Wolf Spider Status
These active spiders typically live for one year, although they can occasionally live for up to 18 months.
There is no immediate threat to or existing threat to the existence of most species of wolf spiders.
Michigan State University has kept the Wolf spider and other common spider species under an integrated pest management system under Plant & Pest Diagnostics.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does the wolf spider bite?
Wolf spiders only attack people when mishandled or caught close to the skin. There have never been any reports of a wolf spider bite leading to major medical issues.
Is Wolf Spider a threat to humans?
Wolf spiders do not pose a severe threat to humans. The venom of wolf spiders can cause allergies, swelling, and itching, but they are not lethal. The maximum damage this giant wolf spider can do to a human is a bite, which in most cases does not require medical attention.
Is it beneficial to have a wolf spider around?
Because they consume problem insects, wolf spiders are non-lethal and beneficial for pest management around our houses and yards.
What draws wolf spiders to homes?
A wolf spider may enter your home through a hole little larger than a cent. Use caulk, screens, and other materials to seal these locations effectively. Reduce outdoor lighting as much as possible since these lights may lure wolf spiders.
What rapidly eradicates wolf spiders?
Boric acid is a widely used powdered chemical for spider pest management, but it works exceptionally well against wolf spiders. A highly efficient approach to get rid of wolf spiders is to sprinkle them along the borders of walls, old cardboard boxes, yard waste, and gaps.
Fun facts about Wolf Spider
- Eyeshine: Wolf spiders can blend in at night because of their black color, but they are relatively simple to see with a flashlight since their eyes will reflect the light to the source. Eyeshine is the term used to describe how the eyes appear to gleam.
- Special Status: The distinction of being named the official state spider of South Carolina goes to one particular species of wolf spider. A state spider is an official designation even if no other state recognizes it.
- Unique infant care: Mother Wolf Spider ties their egg sacks to their spinnerets and carries them about until their young hatch, unlike most spiders. If they believe their eggs are in danger, they may show aggressive behavior, and if the egg sack becomes separated, they will diligently hunt for it.
- Fixed eye position: Wolf spiders, unlike humans, cannot move their eyes. To view what they wish to see, they must adjust their position. But since they can see in four directions at one time, maybe it doesn’t matter.
- Way of communication: Wolf spiders can see, touch, and smell one other to communicate. Some animals also use noises to communicate. They can be heard purring up to 20 feet (6.1 meters) away. The sound, though, only lasts a fraction of a second. Numerous animals frequently brush their feet together to make noise.
- Weight and Web: As strange as it sounds, the weight of wolf spiders is actually unknown. If you get strangled by a spider web, then it is not of a Wolf spider as they do not make any.
Wolf spiders as pets
If you somehow get a wolf spider as a pet, be ready for a considerable commitment from your side. Here are a few tips that might help you in this journey:
- Habitat: Use a vented terrarium with a tight-fitting lid so your spider may get some fresh air without being able to escape. Even though wolf spiders are nocturnal, you won’t need to install a terrarium light because they love to live in the dark.
- Feeding: Look above for preferred wolf spiders’ diets and hunt them down in your garden. You can also visit a local pet store and get some insects to feed your spider.
- Solitude: Wolf spiders are not exactly too fond of having company, so they can be left alone most of the time, which can be advantageous if you are busy.
- No cuddles: Even though wolf spiders look similar to tarantulas, they are very different from them. Whereas tarantulas wouldn’t mind being pets, wolf spiders would hate it. So unsurprisingly, they cannot be cuddled or petted. They might feel threatened and may bite you instead. Yikes.
Wolf spiders are unique for their excellent vision, camouflage, and athletic abilities. Their name comes from their hunting behaviors, also possessed by wolves.
Some creepy wolf spider stories portray these wandering spiders as villains. These are false as they do not threaten humans, just like a regal jumping spider.
(Last Updated on September 19, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)